Author Topic: You paid HOW much for THAT?  (Read 8494 times)

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June24

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You paid HOW much for THAT?
« on: July 16, 2013, 01:24:17 AM »
I have a problem with a work acquaintance who can be very crass and obnoxious, and I would like some advice on how to deal with her without being rude myself.

I am not friends with my colleague "Hyacinth" - she is pushy and has been known to say really inappropriate things in front of senior colleagues, so I try to distance myself from her.

Hyacinth has gotten into the habit of asking me where I purchase my clothes, bags, and shoes, and critiquing how much they cost. She always does this in front of other people. Usually I can get away with "oh, I don't remember, I've had this for a while" or "it was a gift", but occasionally she will recognize a well known brand and latch onto it.

Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?
Me: Oh, it's just a bag I've had for a while - I really enjoy it because it's very comfortable to carry and goes with a lot of stuff. (I then try to move on quickly to other topics. When the bag is from X designer, I don't want to tell her because she will lecture me about how I shouldn't waste money on it. I'm not really sure what else to say here. It would be awkward to tell her to let it go and that I don't want to talk about it. Should I say less? I don't want it to seem awkward, so I try to be conversational when she remarks on something that I'm wearing/carrying. My bags don't have noticeable logos on them - maybe just one really small one on the hardware if you get really close.)
Hyacinth: I'm pretty sure that's X designer. Did you buy it yourself?
Me: It was a gift. So about the project...
Hyacinth: It must be nice to have your parents buy you everything. I'd never want to waste that much money on a bag. That cost $X - it's a complete waste of money.

As you can imagine, this is really awkward and embarrassing for me and for other people in the group.

More background:
I don't discuss any financial problems at work, nor is there anything about me that would make people think that I'm really poor and or that I am getting into debt buying stuff that I can't afford. Hyacinth is about my age (mid 20s) and we work in an environment where it's not unusual to see people wearing/carrying luxury items - it's usually the more senior people, but the younger people do own nice things as well, so I don't really stick out unless a person is very familiar with various designers and can identify their clothes/shoes/bags without an obvious logo.

Hyacinth has been unpleasant toward me since I met her - she once started a conversation by asking me "what's your deal", and then rapidly followed that with "what do your parents do", "where did you go to school", "where did you go to high school", "is that a private school" and "do you have a boyfriend". All normal questions, but the rapid fire questioning without giving me a chance to ask her anything in return made me feel like she was sizing me up. I also don't think that it's a matter of her being jealous - she seem to wear nice clothes and has a disposable income. Both her parents work in a lucrative field and went to fancy schools, which she never lets us forget. (Not sure why she talks about it all the time and brings it up every time she is introduced to a new person, since pretty much everyone in this environment has/is working on a graduate degree from a great school, so it's not like she's impressing us.)

My questions are:
1. How do I stop her in her tracks when she asks me if an article of clothing is from X well-known designer, especially in front of other people?
2. How do I respond to her lecturing me about the price of things? Is it better to let there be an awkward silence and switch topics, or should I tell her that I don't want to discuss how I manage my money? I'm not sure which is less jarring, especially since she often does this in front of other people whose opinion of me matters.
3. If you were in my shoes, would you stop wearing some of the nicer things that you own to work, or would that be giving her too much power? I really don't want to have to do this.

She really only seems to do this to me. Other people whom I like seem to get along with her just fine. To clarify, I don't mind someone telling me that they like X item of clothing that I'm wearing or asking where I got it. It's just that Hyacinth seems so catty and focused on the price.

Deetee

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2013, 01:30:05 AM »
Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?
Me: Oh, it's just a bag I've had for a while. How are your vacation plans coming? Are you still planning to go to Aruba? etc...

or

Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?
Me: Yes, isn't it just great. I remember when I bought it. We were downtown for my sister's birthday and we were all supposed to meet at the station, but my sister's best friend wasn't there and wouldn't answer any texts and we didn't know what to do and so we went and got ice cream and while we buying ice cream we found sister's friend just sitting there and we asked her what she was doing and she asked what we were doing and it turned out she thought we were meeting at 3 when we were really meeting at 2 and.......

NyaChan

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 01:33:38 AM »
"Did you buy it yourself?" -- "Why do you ask?"
"How much did that cost?" -- "Why do you ask?"

Odds are she'll say something like, "I'm just asking" and you can say "Oh really?" and then immediately bean dip.

DottyG

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2013, 02:02:50 AM »
"Did you buy it yourself?" -- "Why do you ask?"
"How much did that cost?" -- "Why do you ask?"

Odds are she'll say something like, "I'm just asking" and you can say "Oh really?" and then immediately bean dip.

This.


Raintree

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2013, 02:04:26 AM »
I could use some practice with these kinds of people myself.

Ideas:

"Did you buy it yourself?"
"Excuse me?"

"How much did you pay for that?"
"Wow, are you really asking me how much I paid for my purse?"

"You spent too much! I know those cost $XXX!!"
"You sure take an unusual interest in my spending."

Pen^2

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2013, 02:38:39 AM »
My sister used to do something similar to this. Every gift she got, she would scour the local shops and find out exactly how much it had cost the giver. Next time she saw the giver, if the mood struck her, she would start up a conversation in order to judge them based on how much they had spent. Not classy, I know.

Bean dipping just didn't work at all. June24's example seems to show this also: Hyacinth just interrupts the topic change with her unwanted statements. My sister would also flat-out ignore anything you said that wasn't about the bag (or whatever it was) and would have a one-sided conversation by herself if she needed to, with her victim trapped backed up in the corner of the room unable to escape. Non-committal responses were ineffective, as were things like "wow, what a personal question" or "you seem really interested in how much things cost." She'd just keep going no matter what was said to her. (I once said, "oh look, the wall fell down" and she didn't even blink.)

I found the only way to stop it was to walk away immediately, before she even finished her first sentence, if it became obvious that she was going to harp on about how much something cost and why I'd spent too much or not enough. I'd grunt, "sorry, I just remembered something..." as I turned and quickly left.

Try bean-dipping some more, and use the responses suggested by others. But some SS simply don't care to listen to you; they are happy to have a one-sided judgemental conversation. If she turns out to be this kind of person, as my sister was, are you able to up and leave when Hyacinth starts up?

June24

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2013, 03:11:36 AM »

Bean dipping just didn't work at all. June24's example seems to show this also: Hyacinth just interrupts the topic change with her unwanted statements. My sister would also flat-out ignore anything you said that wasn't about the bag (or whatever it was) and would have a one-sided conversation by herself if she needed to, with her victim trapped backed up in the corner of the room unable to escape. Non-committal responses were ineffective, as were things like "wow, what a personal question" or "you seem really interested in how much things cost." She'd just keep going no matter what was said to her. (I once said, "oh look, the wall fell down" and she didn't even blink.)


Yep, this is it exactly. If you try to change the subject, she just ignores it and keeps talking what she wants to talk about.

PastryGoddess

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 03:22:01 AM »
Hyacinth sounds very insecure and seems to have a need to bring others down to make herself feel better. 

You are doing a form of JADEing, which is not helpful. Stop actually answering her questions, because that opens you up to more of her intrusive questions.  Every time she brings something up, I'd turn it around on her either with a question or a pointed comment about taking so much interest in you.

"Why do you ask?"
"Why do you need to know that?"
"You seem to be awfully interested in my purse/shirt/shoes/etc, why is that?"
"How is that any of your business?"
"Why does it matter?"
"Thank you, this is a nice [item] isn't it"
"What's your point?"
*awkward pause* "So anyway, as I was saying" *Back to topic before she interrupted*

It would help if you added a mental "Bless your heart" after everything you said.  You tend to get a look on your face that's a cross between pity and amusement.  It induces frustration in busybodies.

If you aren't able to leave after dropping these one liners, then make a very obvious show of changing the subject after each and every question.  Make it a game.  See how many times you have to change the subject before you can leave or she stops asking. 
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aiki

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2013, 04:03:32 AM »
Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?

You: I'm really not interested in discussing the price and provenance of my belongings with you. How about that local bean dip team then?
"A true gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude."  - Oscar Wilde

figee

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2013, 04:11:16 AM »
If Hyacinth won't let you change the subject the only thing I can suggest was something I leant at work when people were criticising something I am involved with but not in charge of, and they made it into a personal attack.

Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?

You: Why?

Hyacinth:  Blah blah, waste of money...

You:  So noted.  (Silence)

Hyacinth:  Waste of money etc etc.

You:  I've noted your opinion.  Now its time to move on.  OR repeat 'So noted'.  Then nothing more.

This isn't exactly polite but it is business-like and tends to shute people down.

magician5

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2013, 05:56:22 AM »
Don't ask questions ("Why do you asd?" - just shut it down: "I'm not comfortable discussing things like that."
There is no 'way to peace.' Peace is the way.

Sharnita

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2013, 06:54:35 AM »
I'd be tempted to act amazed and say "I don't think the people at St. Vinnie's/Goodwill/wherever knew that when they marked it at $3."

Now, if you were complaining about never having money and came in with a ton of designer hand bags I wouldn't blame her for an internal raised brow but since you have never indicated any financial issues she shouldn't even be thinking about it let alone verbalizing it.

Margo

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2013, 07:22:41 AM »
I might try, just once saying something like "Yes, it is. You've spotted my one luxury"
If she goes on about it being a waste then something such as "It's not a waste to me. The pleasure I get from having something this beautiful / this quality is worth it to me. I of you don't feel the same than you're right that *for you* it would be a waste"

and then the next time try for a slightly bored tone and "Hyacinth, didn't we already have this conversation?"

bonyk

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2013, 08:04:56 AM »
Hyacinth is trying to embarrass you.   I think deflecting or asking "Why do you want to know?," lets her know that you do, in fact, feel embarrassed.  You need to go on the offensive.  "None of you business," or "We don't have a relationship that makes discussing personal finances appropriate," will help take some of your power back.  Be prepared for a parting shot or two from her.  Just remain even keeled and repeat what ever line you settled on.

MrTango

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Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2013, 08:08:59 AM »
I could use some practice with these kinds of people myself.

Ideas:

"Did you buy it yourself?"
"Excuse me?"

"How much did you pay for that?"
"Wow, are you really asking me how much I paid for my purse?"

"You spent too much! I know those cost $XXX!!"
"You sure take an unusual interest in my spending."

I like these ideas.  Don't answer any personal questions she asks you.